I’ve been following the DIY Rainbow Movement with a keen interest (and smile) this week. It all started last Thursday, when the rainbow pedestrian crossing that had been painted across Sydney’s Oxford Street in March to mark the 35th anniversary of the district’s annual Mardi Gras gay pride celebration was removed. Despite a 15,000-signature petition to keep it, NSW Minister for Roads and Ports Duncan Gay had it cleared off, declaring it a safety hazard.
Chalk it up
In response to the decision, Surry Hills local James Brechney, his sister Kelly and friend Wladi Dirksen took to the laneway at the back of their house and chalked up a commemorative chalk rainbow, snapped a pic and created a Facebook page called DIY Rainbow Crossings.
They encouraged others to join them: “In farewell of the premature removal of Sydney’s Rainbow Crossing we made our own DIY Rainbow Crossing from chalk! Love to see more DIY rainbow crossings popping up in Australia and beyond. Don’t get angry, get chalking!”
From little things, big things grow
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And people did. A week later their Facebook page has over 18,000 likes and their message has gone viral. They somehow managed to spark a social movement tagged #DIYrainbow with over 1000 colourful chalk crossings popping up across Australia and around the world, including the US, France, UK, Germany, Kenya and beyond. As well as national and international press, including Buzzfeed, Reuters US and the International Business Times reporting the story.
Chase the rainbow
It’s amazing how fast and far-reaching social media can be in communicating a message. But it’s not just that – the idea was simple but incredibly clever. Instead of taking an angry or political approach to the removal of the crossing, they took a positive one that encouraged action and involvement.
The end result being a community-focused effort that allowed people from all walks of society to show their support in a colourful, creative and legal way. The feel-good factor was upped by the fact that images were then shared – and endorsed by like-minded fans – across social media platforms.
While DIY Rainbow Crossings isn’t defined by the same constraints as a business or brand in communicating its message, their campaign does prove the power of creativity, community and positivity when it comes to ‘selling’ a message (or in this case a cause) through channels such as social media – considerations all brands should explore in their content and social media.